Today, legislation has passed Congress and is on its way to President Obama that will allow the F.D.A. for the first time to regulate tobacco products. This truly is a huge step. As a health care provider, I see the harmful effects of cigarette smoke, not only on my patients, but on their families and on unsuspecting members of the community. Just recently I spoke with a patient that at one point in his life was smoking 4 packs a day. He now enjoys regular trips to his pulmonologist and annual arterial blood gas draws from his wrist - not fun nor painless. (If you ever thought having blood drawn from a vein is uncomfortable, as is the case with most labwork, drawing blood from an artery is a completely different ballgame).
Unfortunately in this legislation, nicotine (the highly addictive "feel good" substance found in cigarettes) isn't banned altogether but some chemicals in tobacco products are and there are restrictions put on advertising.
It still amazes me whenever I fly and see the no-smoking light above my seat that at one time smoking was allowed on airplanes. Talk about second hand smoke in a closed vessel! You can make a similar argument when it comes to restaurants and bars where in most places it is now banned.
Of course, we still have a long way to go when it comes to incorporating healthier evidenced based practices in our lives. Smoking causes cancer and other chronic respiratory problems. This legislation, once signed by President Obama, will be a major step in the right direction.